Miami Dolphin owner Stephen Ross may be mulling over the decision to place blackout restrictions on local viewers for certain games. Although there has been no official announcement, the possibility is on the table. Of the $9.5 billion in revenue produced by NFL Teams last year, nearly $4 billion of it came from its television rights. There were close to 1 million empty seats at regular season games last year in the NFL, which is up 50% from just four years earlier. Meanwhile ticket revenue has slumped from increases of 7.2% annually from 2004 through 2008 to just 2.1% from 2008 through 2012. Owners claim that lack of ticket sales prevent teams from improvements and building of new stadiums. Television blackouts really don't make all of this possible, but it certainly helps the owners' cause at the taxpayers' expense. The Dolphins are no exception. Although not yet made public, the debate of blacked-out games has started to simmer and it is surely a possibility come as soon as sometime this season.
If the Dolphins decide to blackout games, and adopt the same rules as teams whom have done this in the past, then the rule is this: Home games couldn't be shown on TV stations that broadcast within a 75-mile radius of the stadium if non-premium tickets weren't completely sold out 72 hours before kickoff.
How will the average Dolfan react? The Miami Dolphins are a business that is set up for profit. Ross, as the smart businessman that he is, will do everything that he can to turn over a buck to make the franchise profitable. That is his right and prerogative. Surely The Dolphins have upgraded the possibilities and may even conjure up a winning season. But will the fans opt to view games live and pay the ticket costs? I am sure some will, but odds are that not enough to sell out games. The economy is still shaky and a ticket is a luxury for most fans, so I can't see Dolfans selling out games. Further fans that have season cable packages may be fortunate to be able to view the Dolphins anyway. The debate may be coming sooner than we expect.